We choose to supersize that meal or put cheese on the burger so that our stomachs look like Kuato in Total Recall. That’s our choice. We choose to wear the jimmy hat or live dangerously. That’s our choice. We choose to draft KAT over Anthony Davis in fantasy. That’s our choice. But there is so much out of our control. The world we were born into. Our parents. What we look like. In a videogame, we choose what difficulty level we play on. In life, that has been chosen for us. Some play on hard, while others get cheat codes. Willy Hernangomez hit the genetic lottery. 6′ 11″ 240 pounds, athletically skilled, and good looking. Sure, he worked his ass off to get where he’s at. Lifting weights, running, and plucking eyebrows, but he had a nice base to work with. Last year during his rookie campaign, he was a monster per-36: 16 points, 13.6 boards, 2.6 dimes, 1.1 steals, 1.0 blocks, 53% field goal percentage, and 73% free throw percentage. Unfortunately, he only played 18 minutes per game. Out of his control. Regardless, Willy was viewed as a franchise piece, but then the Knicks acquired Enes Kanter. The minutes plummeted to 9 a game, even though the per-36 numbers were still robust. Out of his control. If you go back to my earlier blurbs regarding Willy, I mentioned that he hooked up with Hornacek’s daughter. I’d hit up the Google machine right now. Wouldn’t you? I’m still not dismissing that angle, so maybe Willy had some control in the matter. Anyways, after bitching and complaining, he finally got his wish and was shipped to the Hornets. Too bad the Hornets had some guy named Dwight Howard. Can’t forget about Cody Zeller as well. So, Willy was not freed and the situation looked identical to the one in New York. But, Zeller is out for the season due to injury and yesterday, Willy played a season-high 22 minutes.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
 15 11 0 2 0 0 0/1 2/3 11/14

Per-36 in CHA, Willy is at: 17.7 points, 14.9 boards, 1.8 dimes, 1.1 steals, and 1.6 blocks. The Hornets are out of the playoff picture and there’s no reason to push Dwight, so Willy should see significant run to end the season. Free at last….free at last….Willy is free at last.

Here’s what else I saw yesterday:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Don’t take Anthony Davis in the top 5. He’ll miss at least 25 games. Avoid Old Man LeBron James, because he rests all the time. Tyreke Evans has only played 65 games in the last two years combined. Not even worth drafting.

A few of the prevailing opinions going into the season that I thought had gotten a bit overblown. The risk of missing games is scary, but it’s not often very predictable. And yes, I’m cherry picking examples, but AD has played 54 of the first 60 games and is #4 on the ESPN Player Rater (#3 per game). LeBron hasn’t sat one game yet, is among the league leaders in minutes per game again, and is #1 (#5 per game). Tyreke  has played 49 of 59 games, sitting five of those when the team was holding him out before the trade deadline. He’s #58 (#44 per game). And sure, that’s partly due to Mike Conley missing almost the whole season. Yes, there are examples of injury fears being once again substantiated, like in the case of Danilo Gallinari. It’s all guesswork. It’s part of the fun, predicting what a season will bring. But, figuring out the puzzle can drive you mad.

Today, I thought we’d have a little fun revisiting some preseason predictions. Maybe we can learn a bit about what types of projections are more trustworthy than others. Maybe not. I also don’t think this would be a great way to figure out who’s great at predicting things like sleepers and breakouts, because this is a small sample size. Continue to look at the methodology behind the predictions to see if it’s backed up by reason. I just figured that we rarely actually go back to see what was right and what was way off. If it teaches us something for next preseason, great.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

I loved the Chappelle Show. My favorite episode was The Racial Draft, but right behind was Charlie Murphy’s True Hollywood Stories: Rick James. When he first met James, Charlie saw an “orange……auro” around him, as if he were some transcendental god. After getting to know him a bit, he realized that James was “mad niggerish.” He would “walk up to any chick and lick the whole side of their face” then yell, “I’m Rick James, bitch!” I think Rick and LeBron James are the same person, except for the whole “licking the whole side of the face” thing, but…..I don’t know what LeBron is into. Anyways, LeBron has been a trancendental figure in the sport of basketball since he was in high school. He’s a savant on the court, and polished and refined off the court, but when it comes down to it, he don’t take any shit. Last night, he messed around.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
 31 12 11 1 0 1 2/4 13/25 3/3

The triple-dub was his 12th of the season. I’m LeBron James, bitch! But, it doesn’t end there. For the month of February (11 games), he AVERAGED a triple-dub: 26.6 points, 10.3 boards, and 10.4 dimes. I’m LeBron James, bitch! But, it doesn’t end there. With last night’s performance, LeBron became the FIRST player in NBA HISTORY to score 30,000 points, dish out 8,000 dimes, and grab 8,000 rebounds. I’m LeBron James, bitch!

Here’s what else I saw last night:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Last night it was obvious that the All-Star break did a lot of bodies good. There were some huge, I mean massive, fantasy lines last night. Some of the juiciest slash we have seen all season.

The Sixers grab the lead because of their two young stars that have #TrustTheProcess perpetually trending on (anti) social media. Joel Embiid returned from his first of many All-Star appearances with a stat line prettier than Fergie’s angelic voice. 11-of-17 from the floor, including 3-for-3 from deep and 5-for-8 from the line (the only ugly part), 30 points, 13 boards, 5 assists, 3 steals, and 4 blocks with only 1 turnover in 34 minutes. When talking about future number one overall fantasy picks, I rarely hear Embiid’s name mentioned. Now that he is playing in back-to-backs and through minor injuries, I have a feeling that this will change by the end of the season.

His partner in crime, Ben Simmons, would have grabbed the headline if not for Embiid’s epic slash. Simmons finished with: 0 (no surprise)/32/7/11/1/1 including the game winning shot. He did hit only 6-of-11 free throws, however, which along with his lack of an outside shot will continue to keep him out of the first round of fantasy drafts and is probably what kept him out of the All-Star game this year (something tells me this will change next season).

Let’s take a look at what else I saw last night:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

I love craps. Not the sitting on the toilet kind, but the rolling of them two dice. It’s the one game that feels like I have some modicum of control. I shoot the dice, can decide when and where to bet, move chips around, and finally take money off the table if I so choose. It’s all an illusion, though. Yes, money management can always help, but the numbers are not in my favor over the long run. The probability of rolling a 7 is 16.67%. 13.89% to roll a 6 or 8, 11.11% to roll a 5 or 9, and 8.33% to roll a 4 or 10. The hardway bets? 2%. Even though I know the numbers, the game is too freaking fun. And I have those stories when I was down to my last chip and proceeded to go on a crazy heater, hitting multiple points, and making everyone jump around. It’s those times that keep me going back to the tables to replicate that feeling. That is what it must be like to own Tim Hardaway Jr.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
 37 5 1 2 0 3 6/9 14/24 3/3

Every once in a while, he will go on a heater that gets you all excited. More often than not, though, he will shoot 4-of-13 and make you cry like that guy in the casino bathroom that just lost the proverbial house. Since the Knicks lost Porzingis, THJ has seen usage rates of 29.4, 21.9, and 28.3. The high usage rate and minutes should continue to be plentiful. But like my experiences at the craps table, the likely scenario will be “7 OUT!” As long as you keep expectations in check, THJ will have some value. Just beware of emotionally point-chasing the performance from last night.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

What’s up Razzballers? Anthony Davis went absolutely nutty in a double overtime win over the Nets last night, rainbowing for 44/17/2/6/3 on 16-for-35 FG (3-for-5 3P, 9-for-14 FT) and just three TOs in almost 50 minutes. Losing DeMarcus Cousins is a big blow, in fantasy and in real life, but Davis should be able to ball out in his absence. Anyway, here’s what else I saw last night in fantasy basketball:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Another week, another gruesome injury in the NBA… Kristaps Porzingis tore his ACL last night and will be out for the next 9-12 months, meaning he will miss a portion of next season as well. Seems like every week an all-star goes down these days. I can’t remember a season with more replacements needed for the all-star game. Get well soon Unicorn!!

A quick note before moving on with last week’s calls recap. During the aforementioned game, Giannis Antetokounmpo channeled his inner Vince Carter and did this:

Wow…Tim Hardaway Jr. looks so small right there. I just hope the coaching change and Jabari Parker’s return helps the Greek Freak lead them to a deep playoff run. Yes, I’m biased towards a compatriot but he has developed through hard work into a superstar and deserves more team success.

Moving on to the usual review of my suggestions from last week. Reggie Bullock solidified his place as the starting SG in Detroit with 35 minutes and 2.3 triples per game, while Boban Marjanovic is completely out of Doc’s rotation. Rumors about a DeAndre Jordan trade are heating up with Portland reportedly being added to the list of potential suitors, but Boban is a luxury stash for the time being and can be safely dropped if DJ is not dealt. Tomas Satoransky proved the better PG add in Washington, as predicted, and is providing solid production with 10.0/0.8/2.5/4.8/2.0/0.0/1.5 since starting. However, the best call must have been Terry Rozier, who posted a 11-10-17 triple double and followed it up with a 31-point performance against the Knicks. Finally, Bismack Biyombo’s minutes remain too low for my liking and I haven’t regretted the decision to cut him last week.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

The City of Detroit has long been the s**thole of America. High crime. Low tax base. Corruption. Racial tension. Having the auto industry shut down plants and move them to other areas certainly didn’t help. One of my favorite movies of all-time, The Kentucky Fried Movie, put it best.

I remember during the housing crash, I’d log onto sites like Trulia, Zillow, and Redfin, to see the true carnage. There were places in Detroit that you could buy for under $1000. Insane. Not all was bad, though. The Pistons teams of the late-80s, early-90s brought bling and optimism. Yes, they were the Bad Boys but bad equaled good in that context. Could history be repeating itself? Since Blake Griffin was acquired by the Pistons, the team has rattled of four straight wins. His presence has been so immense that the team gets a win even when he doesn’t play. Last night, Blake went:

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
21 9 6 0 0 3 3/7 9/20 0

Since arriving in Detroit, Blake is playing 36 minutes, scoring 20 points, grabbing 9.5 boards, dishing out 6 dimes, blocking 1, and stealing 0.5. It’s only been a three game sample, but things are looking on the up and up. The cheapest house that I can find on Zillow in the Detroit area for a 4bds, 1 ba, 1,777 sqft is $5,900. That’s progress.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

When Blake Griffin was traded to the Detroit Pistons there were a lot of concerns. In the interest of time I will stick to just those relevant to fantasy basketball. Ok, actually that only leaves one major concern: Would Andre Drummond continue to be the rebounding machine he was prior to the arrival of the Kia-jumping, oft-injured, polarizing, human-highlight film come-again Blake Griffin?

Yes, the answer is yes. The dude is a beast. He sucks in rebounds like black holes suck in matter. And while black holes spit out gamma rays, Andre Drummond spits out sick slash lines. Forget the 3-point shooting, point-forward, stretch-four big men we are calling unicorns. The true unicorns are the old-school low-post bangers like Drummond, who even Charles Oakley would agree, could hang during any era of NBA basketball.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
23 20 1 4 4 6 0/0  11/15   1/3

Here is what else I saw last night:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

I’ve long been fascinated by punt strategies, especially punting free throws, as you may recall. In getting deep into the math of that years ago, I started paying a lot more attention to field goal percentage and free throw percentage in fantasy. I think it’s a spot where knowledgeable fantasy players can find an advantage. It’s one thing to compare two players by their counting stats, but, as you probably know, FG% and FT% involve another dimension: volume. Even if you’re fully aware of that, though, how often do you just look at a player’s percentage and think “Hmm 70% — not bad for a center” or “Wow, 81% — this guy will help me win the category” without looking at how many attempts they take per game? We shouldn’t even look at the % for fantasy purposes. Just look at a player rater value instead, since volume is already then taken into account.

Today, we’ll look at the leaders and bottom-feeders in ESPN per game Player Rater values (through 1/30) for players that have a decent number of games played (and are still playing). I’m including the value this time instead of the rank so we know just how much these guys are affecting the category.

For reference, a zero rating in FG% is currently around 45.5% and it’s about 76% for FT%. So, keep that in mind as you relate these ratings to your specific league.

Please, blog, may I have some more?